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  The term used in the USA for redrawing the boundaries of electoral districts, such as the Congressional Districts used for the election of members of the House of Representatives and the districts which return members of State legislatures: the British term is redistribution.

The process of redistricting can involve both malapportionment and gerrymandering, whereby those political interest groups (usually parties) within the state apparatus responsible for the task promote their own electoral interests. To prevent this, the US Supreme Court ruled in the 1960s that malapportionment is unconstitutional; in the 1980s it also sought to reduce gerrymandering, including gerrymandering against racial minorities. In the light of these decisions, partisan domination of redistricting in many states has been removed and replaced by either bipartisan or multi-partisan procedures: as a consequence redistricting is now needed in most States every decade, after publication of the Census count, because of either or both of malapportionment as a result of differential population changes, and changes in the State\'s entitlement to Representatives. Such procedures cannot prevent \'unintentional gerrymandering\', however, because (as Gudgin and Taylor, 1979, showed in a seminal work) \'most redistrictings are likely to favour one party\'s interests over its opponents\'.

Most countries which have legislatures elected from single-member constituencies undertake regular, non-partisan redistrictings. In the UK, this is done by four independent Boundary Commissions, but their work almost invariably results in \'biased\' election results (against a norm of proportional representation for parties: Rossiter, Johnston and Pattie, 1999). The nature of the problem, fitting a map of bounded territories (i.e. constituencies) onto a map of population distribution subject to certain constraints (such as the allowed population variation between constituencies) could be undertaken using geographical information systems, but although technically feasible this is not politically desirable to most participants in the process (cf. racial districting). (RJJ)

References and Suggested Reading Courtney, J.C., MacKinnon, P. and Smith, D.E., eds, Drawing boundaries: legislatures, courts, and electoral values. Saskatoon: Fifth House Publications. Grofman, B., ed., 1990: Political gerrymandering and the courts. New York: Agathon Press. Gudgin, G. and Taylor, P.J. 1979: Seats, votes and the spatial organization of elections. London: Pion Ltd. McLean, I. and Butler, D.E., eds, 1996: Fixing the boundaries: defining and redefining single-member electoral districts. Aldershot: Dartmouth. Rossiter, D.J., Johnston, R.J. and Pattie, C.J. 1999: The Boundary Commissions: redrawing the United Kingdom\'s map of Parliamentary constituencies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.



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